Damages claim ends after woman’s death

A legal action for damages by an elderly woman who died before her appeal against the dismissal of her case was decided cannot be continued for the benefit of her estate following her death, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Bridget Doyle was 79 when she underwent surgery at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in January 2010 to remove a cataract in her left eye. The surgery was unsuccessful and she had the eye removed in February 2010 . Further complications arose, leaving her often depressed and reliant on family members for her care.

In June 2011, she initiated proceedings alleging she had not given informed consent to the surgery and administration of a general anaesthetic. The claims were denied.

When the case opened for hearing in the High Court in 2012, an issue emerged about her capacity to give evidence and her son Edward acted as her next friend.

The case concluded in June 2013, and in December, Mr Justice Éamon de Valera gave judgment dismissing her claim after finding requirements for disclosure of information to patients in elective surgery were met and no liability could be attributed to the hospital.

An appeal was lodged in January 2014 and in May a priority hearing was sought as Mrs Doyle was then terminally ill. The appeal was listed for June 3 but was adjourned to July 31, and Mrs Doyle died on July 11.

Mrs Doyle’s side claimed the claim for general damages survived, plus a claim for some €90,000 for care services provided by Edward Doyle to his mother between February 2010 and May 2012.


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